Lon­don farms fish and greens

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

LON­DON — In­side a ware­house in in­dus­trial south­east Lon­don, farmed tilapia swim in blue tubs filled with pris­tine wa­ter, ready to be sold to trendy restau­rants across the cap­i­tal.

In an ad­ja­cent room, un­der pink LED lights and con­trolled tem­per­a­tures, shoots of salad leaves and herbs grow on re­cy­cled car­pet fiber fer­til­ized with the fish waste. In this cav­ernous, win­dow­less space more suited to a night­club than a farm, the greens are stacked on me­tal shelves stretch­ing to the ceil­ing.

It’s a far cry from tra­di­tional Bri­tish farms that sprawl across acres of land. But for Kate Hof­man, who co-founded GrowUp Ur­ban Farms in 2013, pro­duc­ing food in this 557-square-me­ter build­ing in Beck­ton was not only clever and cost-ef­fec­tive. It was also a sus­tain­able way to feed peo­ple in the city.

“Some­times peo­ple have an ide­al­ized idea of how their food is be­ing pro­duced. In their head, they think that farmer Joe tends to his field with his hoe and grows his heads of let­tuce,” the 32-yearold says.

“We’re try­ing to show that you can have an in­dus­tri­al­ized food sys­tem ... but you can do it in a way that’s sus­tain­able,” says Hof­man, who launched Bri­tain’s first com­mer­cial aquaponic farm — a sys­tem that uses fish waste to fer­til­ize crops, which in turn fil­ter the wa­ter used to farm the fish.

Rich and poor coun­tries alike are tasked with cre­at­ing sus­tain­able and in­clu­sive cities by 2030 un­der global de­vel­op­ment goals agreed in 2015 — and sort­ing out how cities are fed is a cru­cial part of that chal­lenge, ex­perts say.

As two-thirds of the global pop­u­la­tion are fore­cast to live in cities by 2050, com­pared with about half now, ur­ban plan­ners and pol­i­cy­mak­ers are in­creas­ingly look­ing to agri­cul­ture in towns and cities as a so­lu­tion to pro­vide nu­tri­tious food.

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